Tag Archives: Magazines

Complain, Complain, Complain!

I haven’t written much lately, or at least not much for the blog. (I have been working on a story, though. For some reason, writing fiction has become more satisfying than writing about reality).  I try, when I write, to focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud. Lately, this has become most difficult.

We’ve already discussed how the news media obsesses on all things negative—or meaningless (What’s wrong with Richard Simmons? Will Johnny Depp survive the breakup? Will Caitlin decide to become Bruce once again?). Every trend dies sooner or later, except, apparently for this one. I suppose it’s because they pick the stories that sell the most erectile dysfunction prescriptions, thereby financially benefiting the media, your physician, Big Pharma, venture capitalists, and investment firms.

I propose that we start anew. First, let’s hold a memorial service for journalism. It had a short and tragic life. The first American newspapers were all opinion pieces, but there was one brief shining moment—a century or so—when factual reporting became the gold standard. Many were thrilled at its demise.

My favorite magazines—National Geographic, Wired, and Smithsonian, and National Public Radio have begun to beat me over the head with more doom and gloom. I don’t care who just wrote a book to announce that they’ve come out as gay; I’m sorry that peasants hack down the rain forests because they need to plant food; I regret that there’s a controversy in reintroducing wild wolves into areas where cattle are raised; and I find it unfortunate that while developed countries used coal in the nineteenth century, we balk at twenty-first century countries using such antiquated (but economically viable) methods.  The difference is that rising sea levels today threaten ninety percent of the world’s population because they live near the coast.

In the 1960s we had a saying, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” Complaining, even if you’re a well-known television newsperson, accomplishes nothing. How do you plan to solve the problem? Like the ghost of Freddie Prinz the response seems to be, “Not my problem, man!”

So?

Open Letter to Magazine Publishers

I read. I read a lot. I’ve read a lot ever since I was a kid.

My kids, on the other hand, seem to prefer media that can be delivered via smartphone—podcasts, videos, cute kittens, pictures of someone else’s meal, and who knows what.

I subscribe to nearly a dozen magazines; my two kids who are still at home currently subscribe to one magazine—between them. I figure this is average, or possibly even above average..

Now that we have all that out of the way, here are some suggestions from those of us who actually pay for and read magazines:

  • Please use a font size that does not require an electron microscope to read.
  • When you MUST continue an article on one of the last pages, PLEASE make sure that the pages near it have visible page numbers. It seems like the last 20 percent of the pages in a magazine only have a few marked with page numbers.
  • We get it that you’re trying to be all stylish, modern and such, but trendy colors don’t work. Ten point grey type on beige backgrounds, or white type on undulating backgrounds don’t work. Contrast, such as white pages with jet black print works. (Wired magazine, did you read this? You can still have snazzy covers and illustrations to appeal to—–whoever likes the pictures more than the words.)

You notice that I’m not criticizing content. I may not agree with what other authors write, but we seem to have a lot of talented writers out there, which is a very positive sign. I paid the extra money when my cataracts were removed so that I would have 20-20 vision AND be able to read without glasses. Much of the time it works, but for some of the trendy printing I need a carbon-arc lamp for illumination and reading glasses—with an eye loupe handy for some sections.

Publishers, you might want to try to appeal to your audience. Just a thought.